Pedestrian accidents often result in the most severe types of personal injuries that one can suffer. There is little chance that a pedestrian will walk away unharmed when struck by a passenger vehicle that weighs an average of 3,000 pounds. The chances are even more remote when a truck is involved in the crash. Often, pedestrians suffer multiple traumatic injuries that might be life-threatening or catastrophic.
Not only is there a high likelihood of serious injury, but the resulting losses can be much more significant than in other traffic incidents. After a pedestrian injury, you may be entitled to substantial financial compensation if you can prove that the driver was at fault for the accident.
Seeking the compensation you deserve is challenging, especially when you are already dealing with injuries and medical treatment. Put your claim in the hands of a trusted pedestrian accident lawyer. They can determine how much compensation you should get and take the proper steps to obtain financial recovery for you.
Call a Pedestrian Accident Attorney Right After the Accident
Your first step after an accident is to contact an experienced pedestrian accident attorney. Your lawyer will investigate the accident to gather the proof you need to show the other person’s negligence. That is the prerequisite for a settlement check.
You need to have the evidence to get much-needed compensation. Assuming that the facts and law are on your side, your lawyer can help you get over the initial hurdle of proving liability over the potential objections of the insurance company that is intent on blaming you.
The other crucial role that your lawyer will perform is helping you estimate your amount of damages. You need to know this number as close to exact as you can. Otherwise, you risk settling your case for too little and not having the money when you need it.
Knowing Your Damages Is Critically Important
Estimating the value of your claim is far more than guesswork. You need to work with experienced attorneys who can quantify the impact on your life that the accident had. Given the scope of your pedestrian accident injuries and how it disrupts your life, you will need to work with multiple accident experts. An experienced attorney has the network and knowledge to work with experts to evaluate and maximize the value of your claim and recovery.
They can work with the following classes of experts:
- Doctors to understand your injuries and your prognosis in the future.
- Vocational experts to learn more about your career path and trajectory had you never suffered an injury.
- Life care planning experts to understand the care that you may need in the future.
- Psychiatric experts to learn the impact that your injuries will have on you.
- Economic experts to determine the amount of your lost wages, past and future, and how future inflation, both in health care and in general, can impact the value of your settlement.
Your lawyer will explain to you each of the individual elements of your damages, so you have an idea of what you may get in a settlement. Many people ask about the average settlement in a pedestrian accident. The best answer that a lawyer can give is that, while a pedestrian accident settlement will usually be higher on account of your serious injuries, it depends on your own unique situation.
The Severity of Your Injuries Will Dictate Your Compensation
In your case, everything comes down to the severity of your injuries. The concept is always the same – whether you have suffered a minor injury from which you can recover or a permanent and lasting injury, the responsible party must fully compensate you for the damage they caused.
The first thing your attorney will consider in valuing your claim is your economic damages because those may form the basis for your entire claim. Economic damages after a pedestrian accident cover your actual financial losses. One of the primary parts of economic damages is your medical care.
The responsible party must pay for all costs associated with your medical care, including:
- Hospitalization costs
- Doctor’s office visits
- Prescription medication
- Medical equipment
- Retrofitting your home to accommodate a disability
In addition, you are entitled to the cost of a caregiver if the severity of your injuries makes one necessary.
Additionally, you are entitled to lost wages when you cannot work. Lost wages cover both past and future earnings. You can receive payment for the time you must miss from work to receive medical treatment. In addition, if the severity of your injuries means that you cannot qualify for a specific promotion or you must switch to lower-paying work, you have a right to recovery for the difference in earnings.
Non-Economic Damages in a Pedestrian Accident Case
Another category of damages relates to the physical and emotional effects of your injuries. Non-economic damages attempt to put a dollar value on your subjective experience since the accident. It will be incorrect to characterize these damages as intangible because they very much affect your quality of life – often taking it away from you entirely.
Many things can fall under the heading of non-economic damages. The term with which you are probably most familiar is pain and suffering. This term describes the physical and emotional harm you have endured and will continue to endure in the wake of your pedestrian accident. It can include the discomfort that you live with daily or the depression and anxiety that you struggle with because of your injuries. Non-economic damages can also include the trauma you live with in the aftermath of a sudden and unexpected accident.
Non-economic damages can also include:
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Embarrassment and humiliation
- Permanent scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of consortium damages for a partner
Everything Depends on Your Medical Diagnosis
Your medical diagnosis and condition will be the basis of your pain and suffering damages. The insurance company will review your medical records and try to gauge the severity of your injury. In most pedestrian accident cases, they will assign a multiplier to your economic damages and use it to reach the amount of non-economic damages.
The actual multiplier will depend on the severity of your injuries. If you have suffered broken bones that you can heal from after some time, you will have a lower multiplier than if you have been diagnosed with a spinal cord or traumatic brain injury. The multiplier is usually somewhere between one and five.
The Insurance Company Will Do Everything to Pinch Pennies
You can count on the insurance company both understating the extent of your injuries and using a lower multiplier than they should. In reality, they should base your non-economic damages solely on your experience after the accident. However, an insurance company is all about convenience and saving money at your expense. While they are trying to use preset formulas, you should be telling your own story and how your injuries change your day-to-day life.
Wrongful Death Damages in a Pedestrian Accident Case
If your loved one died from a pedestrian accident, your family might be entitled to damages in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Assuming you can prove fault, your family may receive:
- The lost wages that your loved one might have earned
- Payment for the loss of love, guidance, and support that you will have received from your family member
- Compensation for your family’s grief and trauma
- Burial and funeral expenses
You should consult an attorney to learn whether you are one of the family members eligible for wrongful death compensation.
How Insurance Coverage Will Come into Play
Your damages may also depend on the amount of insurance coverage that the responsible driver had. If you file an insurance claim, you may settle for the policy maximum, whatever that is.
If the responsible driver does not have enough insurance coverage, you can file a claim against your own car insurance policy. It does not matter that you were a pedestrian. So long as you were involved in a vehicle accident, you can file an underinsured motorist claim.
You must fight for the settlement you deserve since the insurance company’s goal is to minimize your recovery. Be prepared for initial settlement offers that are for a fraction of the actual damages that you suffered. However, with the help of your attorney, you will know how much your claim is actually worth.
How Hard You Fight Will Determine How Much You Get
Remember that your settlement depends in part on you. The insurance company cannot impose a settlement on you because they do not have the power. They are your adversary in a pedestrian accident claim, and both sides must agree in order to reach a final settlement.
You may even need to fight your own insurance company if they try to underpay your claim. It does not matter that you have paid your premiums in full and on time for years. No insurance company likes to write a check, which is an ironclad rule. Your lawyer may need to fight two insurance companies at the same time.
You Can Reject a Low Settlement Offer
In other words, you have the power to say no. In fact, you do not even need to go through the insurance company claims process in the first place. You can file a lawsuit directly in court, although the insurance company will have the duty to defend its driver in a lawsuit under the insurance policy’s terms.
If the insurance company does make you a low settlement offer, you have two options:
- You can reject the settlement offer by making your own counteroffer that demands what you believe you deserve from the insurance company
- You can take your case directly to court, beginning the process of having a jury hear your case (if you file a lawsuit, that does not mean that a jury trial will ultimately be required since many cases will settle before they reach a jury).
You Can Hold out for What You Deserve
The point is that you have some control over the value of your case by holding out for what you deserve and saying no to low settlement offers. While your damages are your damages, you cannot accept a poor settlement offer. Your pedestrian accident attorney will know how to put legal pressure on the insurance company, potentially getting them to raise their settlement offer. The insurance company does not want to be taken to court because it means that they must incur expenses to defend against your case.
If you choose to take your case to court, you can get a judgment against the responsible driver if the verdict is for more than their insurance coverage. Your attorney should understand the driver’s assets and know whether and how to collect the judgment from them.
You Need a Lawyer for a Pedestrian Accident Claim
Pedestrian accident claims are not simple, given the damages at stake. Money is critical for your future as you live with your accident injuries. An attorney can help you learn the value of your case and fight for every dollar you can get. You should never be in the position of trusting the insurance company and relying on their estimate of your damages.
The answer to the question of how much compensation you can get will depend on whether you have hired an experienced lawyer. While your damages are your damages, the fight determines what you eventually get.
Timing is an issue when you call an attorney. You need to have a lawyer soon after the accident to give you peace of mind and protect your rights when the insurance company tries to take them from you. Put the details of your case in a lawyer’s hands so you can focus on your recovery.
Having a personal injury lawyer evaluate your options costs nothing, and you pay no upfront fees for legal representation. Never delay in seeking legal help.